It was a blustery night in Ann Arbor as Hollway Field opened its gates to the Mighty Oak faithful for the first time in this 2016 season. AFC Ann Arbor played host to Oakland County FC for the second and final preseason friendly.
Play kicked off after a ceremonial kick off courtesy of avid AFC supporter and Ann Arbor mayor Christopher Taylor. With that, the home account for the 2016 AFC Ann Arbor season was officially underway.
The first half saw a lot of action early on for both sides, and both teams createda couple chances. Dario Suarez was a spark for the mighty oak early on, asking a lot of the Oakland County backline and linking up well with Hector Morales and Yuri Farkas.
Despite the good link-up play, AFC were unable to capitalize after a good spell of possession. In the 30th minute, Alex Marilley brought down a cross, and fired a shot across the face of the AFC net only for an unfortunate deflection off Kevin Taylor’s forehead to guide the ball past Adrian Motta in the mighty oak net.
The scored remained 1-0 throughout the rest of the first half, with AFC trying to strike back, Dario Suarez and Yuri Farkas again spearheading the attack. In the 44th minute, a foul on Dario by OCFC’s Mike Pugh saw him earn a yellow card, the first of the match.
On the other side of half time, AFC started strong and pressed hard to find an equalizer. In the 63rd minute, after an excellent bit of paly, man of the match Yuri Farkas controlled well and fired a shot past the keeper to level the score.
AFC looked poised to grab a go-ahead goal, but in the 85th minute, Sam Brikho took advantage of a lapse in the AFC backline and hit a strong shot past Motta in the mighty oak net.
AFC had five minutes plus stoppages to try and find a late equalizing goal, and a free kick in the 88th minute by Knox Cameron offered the best chance. But Knox’s shot was unable to find its way on frame, and Oakland County FC closed out a tough but well deserved friendly win.
After the match, AFC Ann Arbor coach Eric Rudland was optimistic about the way his team performed, saying, “I think we made some good progress tonight, you know in the second half specifically, we found a good rhythm in the attack, had quite a few chances. I don’t know what possession stats were but it felt like we did a really good job at keeping the ball, in the second half, specifically in their half.”
The Audi Ann Arbor Man of the Match Yuri Farkas reiterated the sentiment, and added that the team playing more matches together will help improve the performance on the field. “We’re going to practice together with the whole team, so that’s one thing we can improve is everybody getting to know each other.” he said.
The Mighty Oak played well but fell short in the final preseason friendly of the 2016 season, but remain positive and will be hitting the field hard this week to prepare for the club's inaugural NPSL match, Saturday, May 7th, at Hollway field, versus Dayton Dynamo.